The first week of Rat extermination having just passed, Speaker Blamer, Minority Leader Melosay, and Senate Majority Leader Clearwater met at Blamer’s home at ten pm. This was being done on the QT, off the radar, and under cover.
In something of a generational turnabout, these older leaders were trying to get in front of a movement for fundamental change, but they had found, and this was why they were meeting, a group of younger heads were seeking to bring them down. The three had sensed the early signs of a palace revolt.
At this point it was evident mostly in the House but quite capable of spreading to the other body. A clutch of Young Turks were starting the blame game. They were saying that if Blamer and Melosay had not been so secretive about their own asses and the toilets visited by rats, the rodent infiltration could have been nipped in the bud before the creatures went wild, swarming upstairs from the catacombs. The Young Turks stoked each other’s fires, talking each other into heaving expressions of outrage. They saw their careers, so carefully cultivated with sycophancy toward their bosses and donors, going down, not in flames over some principle or ideology or campaign contribution, but going down in the face of public derision . How ignoble. This infuriated them!
As the trio sitting at Blamer’s house had learned, the Turks had started discussing how they could separate themselves from their erst- while leaders and save themselves from what they had come to believe was an approaching from-the-ground-up tsunami, which would soon sweep away the ruling leaders of the Congress.
It wasn’t easy for the Turks to figure out what to do. Not easy at all. So they kept meeting—all thirty-three of them—nervously absorbing each day’s developments around the country and searching for a way that would promote—not deep-six—them. For added secrecy, the Young Turks took to meeting away from the Congress, but even so, the trio had become privy to their plans.
Regina poured wine, setting down the bottle next to a neat display of well-regarded cheeses and nuts she had laid out for her husband’s colleagues. She then sat with them in the Speaker’s comfortable, electronically swept den-study.
Blamer opened the proceedings. “Welcome all. Please do not hesitate to indulge in Regina’s repast. You know why I called this meeting. As if the rat invasion and the emerging revolt of the masses are not enough to preoccupy our days and nights, now we have a sprouting of Young Turks thinking about breaking the venerable rules of succession. I tell you this whole situation is wearing me out. What about you guys? Are you feeling some fatigue?”
Minority Leader Melosay was having none of that gloom. “I’m not tired, my friend, I’m invigorated by all this conflict. You know, Reginald, I’m of the school that if you can’t stand the heat, get out of the kitchen.”
“Or the toilet,” Regina told herself.
“We have to look for or create a luminous arc of immediate, substantive possibilities that takes away the spotlight on everything that is worrying us,” Melosay said rather eloquently. “We have to put forward a vision of what we wish to implement for our beloved country, taking things progressively ahead in many directions, but ones that fall well within our Constitutional authority.”
Senator Clearwater, who had not achieved his rank by eschewing caution, threw in, “Do you think we have to go all the way at this early date, I mean, straight to the last resort, so to speak?”
To Clearwater’s ears, Minority Leader Melosay was getting as testy as Blamer. She said, “If we wait, we lose; if we don’t seize the moment, the moment will seize us personally and . . . it won’t be good for the country.”
Regina thought Melosay’s pause made it seem like the country was an afterthought.
The Speaker, for his part, cast a quick glance at the rare-book Family Bible open on the side table, perhaps as a bracer to stiffen his resolve as he expressed his next thought. “You know, Marcy, I don’t need any convincing that we need to take the country in a new direction. Ever since my Sunday appearance on Meet the Press I am a different man. When you speak of how we must make fundamental alterations in the polity, you are speaking to a new choir, or rather a liberated choir. But right now, I am a choir of one in my Party. I don’t see anyone seconding my recently voiced opinion. My partisans have been totally mum for the past sixty hours since I downloaded my conscience and made Regina proud.”
Regina smiled with a slight nod.
Speaker Blamer turned to Clearwater. “Senator, I also believe this rat thing has unleashed irreversible forces around the country. It is early springtime, universally recognized as the season for protests, and I’ve heard that there are numerous cause marches: students, minorities, wounded veterans, impoverished workers, foreclosed home owners, even concussed athletes and others, what we might call affinity groups, set to go as the weather gets warmer. I’m not talking about a single, one-time-only demonstration on the Mall, but a separate march daily, picking up adherents mile after mile, with excited media in tow as the protesters head for the day’s named legislators on Capitol Hill. The demonstrators are making it very, very personal.
“And to top it all—something none of us would have expected— there are some billionaires ready and eager to fund, and speed up, the whole avalanche heading for our heads! I see not one but many ‘perfect storms’ of completely unforeseen dimensions that our years of political savvy have never had to visualize, contemplate, much less learn to confront. To add gasoline to the fire, your Socialist Senator Ernie Banders is quoted in New Yak Magazine as saying he favors such singular marches on Washington and is looking forward, with gusto, to speaking before them. He adds that the marchers intend to bring caged, pet rats with them. For heaven’s sakes, this dreadful symbol lives on undeterred and seems striving for our internment! If we don’t do something, these rats will be carved on our headstones.”